New York: You do not need to hit the gym, and lift heavy weights, but small doses of physical activity, such as brisk walking, may substantially help lower the risk of depression, suggests a study.
The study, led by a team of international researchers including from Universities of Cambridge and Sydney, showed that about 1.25 hours of brisk walking per week could yield an 18 per cent lower risk of depression compared with not exercising.
"Most benefits are realised when moving from no activity to at least some," the study authors wrote, in the paper published in the journal JAMA Psychiatry.
"Our findings have important new implications for health practitioners making lifestyle recommendations, especially to inactive individuals who may perceive the current recommended target (of exercise) as unrealistic," they added.
The team conducted a meta-analysis of 15 studies involving over 190,000 people to determine how much exercise was needed to reduce depression.
The findings revealed that moving up to an "activity volume equivalent to 2.5 hours of brisk walking per week was associated with 25 per cent lower risk of depression.
The findings are consistent with previous studies that found people who exercised had about 43 per cent fewer days of poor mental health.
"Even just walking just three times a week seems to give people better mental health than not exercising at all," study author Adam Chekroud, an assistant adjunct professor of psychiatry at Yale University, was quoted as saying to CNN.
Exercising in 45-minute sessions three to five times a week was the most beneficial for improving mental health, the 2018 study found. However, even doing household chores reduced poor mental health days by about 10 per cent, the study said.
Another study published in 2020 found that even light exercise helped protect children against developing depression. The 2020 study revealed that 60 minutes of simple movement each day at age 12 was linked to an average 10 per cent reduction in depression at age 18.
The types of movement included running, biking and walking, as well as activities like doing chores, painting or playing an instrument, CNN reported.
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London: A psychedelic compound found in psilocybin, commonly known as magic mushrooms, can help to "open up" depressed people's brains, enabling brain regions to talk more freely to one another, finds a study.
Psilocybin is one of a number of psychedelics being explored as a potential therapy for psychiatric disorders. Several studies have trialled a synthesised form of the drug to treat patients with depression and anxiety, with promising results.
A team at Imperial College London's Centre for Psychedelic Research believes to have untangled how psilocybin exerts its therapeutic effects on the brain.
The new results, taken from two combined studies including about 60 adults, reveal that people who responded to psilocybin-assisted therapy showed increased brain connectivity not just during their treatment, but up to three weeks afterwards.
This "opening up" effect was associated with self-reported improvements in their depression.
However, similar changes in brain connectivity were not seen in those treated with a conventional antidepressant (called escitalopram), suggesting the psychedelic works differently in treating depression.
According to the team, the findings, published in the journal Nature Medicine, are a promising advance for psilocybin therapy, with the effects replicated across two studies.
They explain that patterns of brain activity in depression can become rigid and restricted, and that psilocybin could potentially help the brain to break out of this rut in a way that traditional therapies cannot.
"The effect seen with psilocybin is consistent across two studies, related to people getting better, and was not seen with a conventional antidepressant," said Professor Robin Carhart-Harris, from University of California, San Francisco.
"In previous studies we had seen a similar effect in the brain when people were scanned whilst on a psychedelic, but here we're seeing it weeks after treatment for depression, which suggests a acarry over' of the acute drug action," Carhart-Harris, who was former Head of the Imperial Centre for Psychedelic Research.
The researchers added that while follow-up data is still being analysed for participants, initial changes in brain activity one day following treatment were a good predictor of whether a person would still show improvement at six months.
However, they cautioned that patients with depression should not attempt to self-medicate with psilocybin, as taking magic mushrooms or psilocybin in the absence of safeguards may not have a positive outcome. (Agency)
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London: People bedridden for seven days or more with Covid-19 showed a higher rate of depression and anxiety, compared to those who were infected but never bedridden, according to a new study published in The Lancet Public Health.
The findings suggest that, on the whole, non-hospitalised patients with a SARS-CoV-2 infection were more likely to experience depressive symptoms up to 16 months after diagnosis compared to those never infected.
While symptoms of depression and anxiety mostly subsided within two months for non-hospitalised patients, those bedridden for seven days or more continued to be 50-60 per cent more likely to experience depression and anxiety upto 16-months.
The quicker recovery of physical Covid-19 symptoms may explain in part why mental health symptoms decline at a similar rate for those with a mild infection. However, patients with severe Covid-19 often experience inflammation which has previously been linked to chronic mental health effects, particularly depression.
"The higher occurrence of depression and anxiety among patients with Covid-19 who spent seven days or longer bedridden could be due to a combination of worrying about long-term health effects as well as the persistence of physical long Covid symptoms well beyond the illness that limit social contact and may result in a sense of helplessness," said Ingibjorg Magnusdottir, from the University of Iceland.
To capture long-term mental health impacts, the researchers looked at symptom-prevalence of depression, anxiety, Covid-19 related distress, and poor sleep quality among people with and without a diagnosis of Covid-19 from 0-16 months (mean follow-up 5.65 months).
The analysis drew upon data from 247,249 people in seven cohorts across Denmark, Estonia, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, and the UK.
Overall, participants diagnosed with Covid-19 had a higher prevalence of depression and poorer sleep quality compared to individuals who were never diagnosed.
"Our research is among the first to explore mental health symptoms after a serious Covid-19 illness in the general population up to 16 months after diagnosis. It suggests that mental health effects aren't equal for all Covid-19 patients and that time spent bedridden is a key factor in determining the severity of the impacts on mental health," said Professor Unnur Anna Valdimarsdottir, from the varsity.
"As we enter the third year of the pandemic, increased clinical vigilance of adverse mental health among the proportion of patients with a severe acute disease of Covid-19 and follow-up studies beyond the first year after infections are critical to ensure timely access to care." (agency)
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These days everywhere you look, you spot people talking about things not going right or how they feel stressed and "depressed". Depression has hit society in the worst way ever - right from adults to kids being impacted by it at different intensities. Research shows that 1 in every 5 people goes through depression or mental health issues in any given year.
Before we understand what depression is, let's clarify at the outset what it isn't. Depression is not feeling sad or feeling depressed momentarily. Unknowingly, we stereotypically portray depression as sadness with the extensive usage of the word.
Dr. Chandni Tugnait, a psychotherapist, life and business coach, and founder-director of Gateway of Healing says, depression is not being unhappy; it is not anger, fear or loneliness - it is none of these individually and yet it is all of these and much more.
Depression is being numb. It is nothingness. It is exhausting. It takes away all motivation and leaves a feeling of hopelessness. There is a lack of energy - it's more like a void where nothing grows or changes, where time does not exist, where there is nothing and no one. Of course, it is difficult for the person trying to cope with it as well as for the people around them.
Sometimes depression is chronic and evident but a lot of times one isn't aware of it and sometimes one is even able to camouflage it in the garb of routine & forced positivity - this last type, by the way, is the worst as sometimes we lose them to suicide - just like that - no warning, no sign, as per Dr. Tugnait.
The line between clinical depression and feeling depressed is quite fragile and often we find inappropriate self-diagnosis in this regard. Clinical depression is accompanied by a feeling of impending doom without any reason, every day, for over two weeks continuously along with fatigue, loss of interest, insomnia, etc. However, one may feel depressed for a while due to a difficult event like losing a job/loved one, etc. and may confuse it for depression and begin to pop pills. It's important to be aware of the difference - the ability to get up and fight back against these feelings, instead of accepting them or thinking that they will simply go away on their own or never go away.
The deeper the roots of depression, the more time it takes for a person to heal. It keeps a person in the loop of ï¿½being low' and makes them self-damaging. The symptoms could range from crying all day to being unable to get up from the bed to work, bathe, or even eat.
Then there are the happy and high functioning depressed people who have smiling depression. A high functioning depressed person appears energetic, carefree and cheery on the outside, most of the time and people close to them never get to know that on the inside they are being sucked into a black hole. Strangely, they would go out of their way to keep others happy, masking their own sadness.
When alone, they cry, contemplate suicide and feel exhausted from all the pretending. Why do they pretend? Well, it's funny that each time we ask someone, "How are you?", we are looking at "I am fine, thank you" as the response because if someone starts sharing how they really are, we are quick to tell them not to sulk or look at the bright side. Sharing and sulking are two different things. The fear of being judged is deeply ingrained in our beings and hence it seems like a better proposition to endure the depression in silence than to voice it out.
Contrary to what most people feel, you can't lose depression simply by 'looking at the bright side'. You may be able to camouflage your feelings to save others from getting bothered (or to save yourself from the guilt of it all) but this is plain masking and not copying or healing. People suffering from depression can't "cheer up" and that adds to more frustration.
With every depressed person (and even those suffering from anxiety or other mental health issues) there is a constant 'need' to be themselves or be how they were earlier or be how their friends and family would like them to be. This chase to "be that person" is precisely why most people, despite all the efforts and therapy, are unable to snap out of it.
Dr. Tugnait lists some ways to deal with depression-
Acceptance- Accept self and others (with or without depression) without asking for a change. This is the first step in healing. You can't change something if you resist it as the resistance keeps the energy flowing in that same direction that you wish to alter. Haven't you fought enough already? Let's change the dynamics and accept it, to release it.
Compassion- Choose compassion. Choose the wholeness of being instead of viewing yourself as someone who needs 'fixing'.
Routine- Fix a morning routine to take time to feel gratitude, meditate, read a few pages of a book while sipping tea, exercise, write a journal, sleep for 7-8 hours daily and take a cold shower.
Seek Support- Ask for help and seek professional support from a therapist in case the situation is extreme despite the self-help, positive lifestyles changes and support from family and friends. There's no shame in seeking help to be healthy!
Everyone should be more accepting of mental health issues without any judgments. Take the leap of faith when you feel ready. Until then, just breathe! You are doing fine. Depression is real but so is hope and recovery.
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US researchers have discovered a gene that may help explain why some people who lead enriching lives are less prone to Alzheimer's and age-related dementia.
Many people develop Alzheimer's or other forms of dementia as they get older. However, others remain sharp well into old age, even if their brains show underlying signs of neurodegeneration. Among these cognitively resilient people, researchers have identified education level and amount of time spent on intellectually stimulating activities as factors that help prevent dementia.
The study, led by researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, showed that this kind of enrichment appears to activate a gene family called MEF2, which controls a genetic programme in the brain that promotes resistance to cognitive decline.
The researchers observed this link between MEF2 and cognitive resilience in both humans and mice. The findings suggest that enhancing the activity of MEF2 or its targets might protect against age-related dementia.
"It's increasingly understood that there are resilience factors that can protect the function of the brain," said Li-Huei Tsai, Director of MIT's Picower Institute for Learning and Memory.
"Understanding this resilience mechanism could be helpful when we think about therapeutic interventions or prevention of cognitive decline and neurodegeneration-associated dementia," Tsai added. The study appears in the journal Science Translational Medicine.
The MIT team set out to try to figure how the environmental factors, such as education level, type of job, number of languages spoken, affect the brain at the neuronal level. They looked at human datasets and mouse models in parallel, and both tracks converged on MEF2 as a critical player.
In two human datasets comprising slightly more than 1,000 people all together, the MIT team found that cognitive resilience was highly correlated with expression of MEF2 and many of the genes that it regulates.
To study cognitive resilience in mice, the researchers compared mice who were raised in cages with no toys, and mice placed in a more stimulating environment with a running wheel and toys that were swapped out every few days.
As they found in the human study, MEF2 was more active in the brains of the mice exposed to the enriched environment. These mice also performed better in learning and memory tasks.
The findings suggest that enhancing MEF2 activity could help to protect against dementia, but, because MEF2 also affects other types of cells and cellular processes, more study is needed to make sure that activating it wouldn't have adverse side effects, the researchers said. (Agency)
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Beijing, Aug 15 (IANS) Researchers have identified that low microRNA (miRNA) immunity increases the risk of Covid-19 infection in older adults and people with diabetes.MicroRNAs are a key class of gene expression regulators which play an important role in inflammation and immune response.The study led by researchers from Nanjing University in China identified four circulating miRNAs -- miR-7-5p, miR-24-3p, miR-145-5p and miR-223-3p -- which are high in healthy people and much lower in older people and diabetic patients.These miRNAs could effectively inhibit SARS-CoV-2 replication by directly targeting the S protein, said Chen-Yu Zhang from the varsity's School of Life Sciences.Serum exosomes containing these miRNAs from young people could strongly inhibit SARS-CoV-2 replication, but this inhibitory effect was low in older people and diabetic patients, the researchers said.Long-term exercise was found to increase the level of these miRNAs in the blood offering better protection against the SARS-CoV-2 virus.The team found that three out of the four circulating miRNAs are significantly increased in the serum of healthy volunteers after 8-weeks' continuous physical exercise. Serum exosomes isolated from these volunteers also showed stronger inhibitory effects on S protein expression and SARS-CoV-2 replication.The study also provides an interesting observation that continuous physical exercise could boost miRNA immunity against SARS-CoV-2, which gives you another reason to hit the gym after work. Working out every day would therefore help all of us, old or young, to stay out of Covid-19's way.Further, the findings, detailed in the journal Signal Transduction and Targeted Therapy, also demonstrates for the first time that our own endogenous miRNAs could directly inhibit SARS-CoV-2 virus.Previous studies led by the tema have shown that approximately 89 per cent of viruses that infect humans could be targeted by human miRNAs. The new study provides strong and direct evidence supporting the theory that miRNAs, particularly extracellular miRNAs, could function as "RNA defense" and protect cells against foreign nucleic acids, Zhang said.The study indicates that miRNAs are an important component of the endogenous RNA-based immune system to fight virus infection. This new understanding of miRNA function may provide new perspectives for prevention, surveillance and treatment of Covid-19, Zhang added.--IANSrvt/dpb
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